As the founder and host of The Valley Girl Show, Jesse Draper has the distinct opportunity to interview and get to know the creative individuals shaping our generation. In an effort to share her experiences and learnings, Glam presents First Fridays, where Draper will outline her learnings from founders, CEOs, visionaries and more!
Tracy Dinunzio is not your average girl. She bootstrapped her first company RecycledBride which she funded by sleeping on her couch and renting out her room on Airbnb. That takes some serious dedication and heart. She has both. Tradesy, her fashion retail website is the hottest #FashTech startup to hit Silicon Beach (what the LA peeps are calling their 'Silicon Valley'). When we were initially introduced by Dorian Howard, the founder of Milk and Honey Shoes, I met her at Tradesy's very cool office in Santa Monica. She fed me lunch and we drank startup coffee (delicious!). Their office is dog friendly and they have an enticing room full of high end clothes for resale which was a fun perusal. She's a real go getter, an inspiring SEO genius, enjoys a stiff drink every once and awhile, loves crudités from True Food Kitchen AND here's 12 things I learned from Tracy Dinunzio…..
- What is Tradesy?
Tradesy is a fashion resale website and app that connects millions of women who buy and sell clothing and accessories, straight from their closets. Our sellers earn money for the clothes they no longer wear, and buyers save up to 90% on designer fashion. We also have a section for wedding dresses and accessories that's helped millions of brides have the wedding of their dreams without breaking the bank.
- Do you use it yourself? What do you love about it?
I think I use Tradesy too much! I buy and sell things every week, and it lets me constantly update my wardrobe without spending, because my sales finance my new purchases.
- What have you learned about fashion that you didn't know before you started Tradesy?
SO much! I used to think of fashion as an industry based around creativity and trends. But now I understand it from a business perspective. Everything from manufacturing to marketing to distribution channels influence how apparel gets sold across the world, and it's fascinating to learn how the brands we all know and love really operate.
- How did you make the decision to become an entrepreneur?
I don't know if I consciously made the decision, it just kind of happened! I was an artist before I did this, and when I got the idea to start a website back in 2009, it just sounded like a fun project. I had no idea how complex and all-consuming this journey would be, but I feel SO fortunate to have discovered it because there really is nothing as exciting as running your own business.
- What is your daily routine?
My daily routine is a bit unorthodox! I've always been a complete night owl, and when I started Tradesy, I felt like I had to change that and conform to an "early to bed, early to rise" schedule, because that's supposedly how most successful people work. But it just wasn't me. I'm super creative and productive late at night, and I also need my beauty sleep! So now, I wake up between 9-9:30am, spend an hour at home answering emails, and arrive to the office by 11am. The day is a hectic blur of back-to-back meetings with our team, investors, media, advisors, and prospective employees. I head home around 8pm to have dinner with my husband, then jump back online to work on everything from our financial projections to writing projects to business development opportunities. From 10pm to 2am, I get to concentrate fully and be very productive -- it's my happy place! I usually fall asleep on top of my laptop, then wake up and do it all over again the next day.
- How do you prioritize?
Prioritization is the most challenging thing for any entrepreneur, and mastering it can make or break your company. I keep a to-do list in Google Docs, and I'm constantly shuffling the list to move the most important items to the top. I find that it's necessary to do this at least twice a day, because new data and information pour in at lightning speed, and if you're not willing to constantly adjust and adapt your priorities, big opportunities slip by. It's easy to get caught up in lower-value tasks if you're not conscious of your priorities, and if you end up spending all your time on things that don't truly make the most impact on your venture, you won't grow as quickly as you need to.
- If you could offer the working woman one style tip, what would it be?
There are three must-haves that help me look polished when I'm traveling and running around to meetings and events: A great day-to-night bag, a really well-made, structured blazer, and a pair of shoes that are stylish but super comfortable. It's worth investing in those three pieces (but of course, you can get them for less on Tradesy!), because you can pair them inexpensive tops, denim, pants, and dresses to work for almost any occasion.
- How do you wind down at the end of the day?
I pretty much don't wind down ever these days! The thing about being an entrepreneur is that it's very hard to separate yourself from your work. But I love my job so much that I'd usually rather work on something for Tradesy than do anything else. I don't think that this lifestyle is healthy if you do it forever, but as long as we're a young, growing company, it works for me.
- Do you have a celebrity crush?
My #1 crush is my amazing husband, but if I had to pick a celebrity crush it would be Russell Brand. He's charismatic, intelligent, outspoken, and a little rough around the edges. I like people who break the rules and take risks. Check out how he takes over Morning Joe in this appearance -- it's priceless!
- What is the latest book you read and LOVED?
The books I love are kind of geeky! I just finished Deluxe: How Luxury Lost It's Luster by Dana Thomas, which is a fascinating look at the luxury fashion industry and the forces behind the big designer brands we all know. I also love Thomas L. Friedman's books, including his latest, That Used to Be Us. His writing makes it easy to understand how powerfully and quickly our world is changing now that we're all connected via the web.
- I know Tradesy was not your first startup, what did you learn from Recycled Bride that you applied to Tradesy?
Recycled Bride was sort of a precursor to Tradesy -- it was also a peer-to-peer marketplace, but just for wedding goods, and we ultimately shut that site down in order to open up a weddings section on Tradesy. The most important things I learned from Recycled Bride had to do with the dynamics of a two-sided marketplace: How to balance supply and demand, manage shipping and returns, and create a pricing structure that enables the marketplace to grow organically. Those lessons gave Tradesy a significant competitive advantage when we launched, because we had already tested so many of the core concepts that drive our product and growth.
- Did you make any new years resolutions this year? What were they?
I've resolved to eat better and exercise more -- not to lose weight, because I think it's crazy for women to try and be a size 2 for our whole lives, but just so that I'll have more energy and vitality. I also really want to get into meditation this year, because mental clarity is so important for my job. But change is hard, so don't hold me to it! The only resolution that I know I'll keep for sure is to continue working my butt off to make Tradesy a huge success :)
UCLA grad, Jesse Draper is a technology expert and creator and host of The Valley Girl Show through which she has become a spokesperson for startups and has helped to pioneer the way of new media content distribution. She oversees everything from pre-production to distribution of the show. Draper started the show because she realized there was no FUN business talk show, only grilling teeth clenching interviews, and she believes the most interesting and inspiring people in the world are the ones who've started a business. In her former life, she was on a Nickelodeon show called "The Naked Brother's Band". Draper also writes columns for Mashable, Forbes.com and San Francisco Magazine and speaks at business conferences around the world including SXSW, DLD, TEDx, TechVentures and STREAM.